WEIHAI (China) • The ITTF Women’s World Cup opened in Weihai on China’s east coast yesterday, signalling the return of international table tennis tournaments following an eight-month pandemic-enforced hiatus.
The event attracted 21 players from 15 countries and regions, including world No. 1 Chen Meng and fellow Chinese Sun Yingsha, the world No. 3.
International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) chief executive Steve Dainton said: “Today is an important and historical day for our sport. After months and months of no international table tennis events, we finally restart.”
The #Restart event series, including the Women’s and Men’s World Cups and the ITTF Finals, will take place in China this month.
Liu Guoliang, president of the Chinese Table Tennis Association, said: “International table tennis events restarted in China, which not only responds to the expectations of table tennis fans around the world, but also provides a good opportunity to show the achievements of China’s epidemic prevention and control to the world.”
World Cup debutantes Chen and Sun will go straight into the knockout stage, which begins today.
They can expect a challenge from Mima Ito (No. 2) and Kasumi Ishikawa (No. 9) of Japan, Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-ching (No. 8), and Singapore’s Feng Tianwei (No. 9).
Like the other top eight seeds, fifth-seeded Feng bypassed yesterday’s group stage.
She will start her bid for a fifth World Cup podium finish against Lily Zhang in the round of 16.
The American yesterday topped Group 2 despite dropping her opener against Ukraine’s Margaryta Pesotska (13-15, 6-11, 5-11, 11-7, 11-3, 10-12), rebounding with victories over Puerto Rican Adriana Diaz (11-13, 7-11, 11-9, 11-9, 12-10, 11-5) and Canadian Zhang Mo (11-9, 9-11, 12-10, 9-11, 11-8, 7-11, 13-11).
Top seed Chen said: “Every participant at the World Cup is among the world’s best players. I will start my game from the knockout stage, so I need to get into it as soon as I can. Hopefully I can find form from the first match.”